Wednesday, 12 June 2013
The following is a repost from Infantile Disorder, covering Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation's recent attempts to smear "anarchist" involvement in the anti-bedroom tax campaign on Merseyside:
In a sickening act of deceit, the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation Twitter account has begun attacking "the anarchists" with misinformation designed to cover for the undemocratic actions of the committee in the run-up to affiliating with the fascist-linked Knowsley group. In doing so, it is attacking some of those who first came up with the idea for an anti-bedroom tax campaign, who put in much of the early spadework, and continue to work hard in their communities. It is also labeling all those who oppose the committee as "anarchists", merely because they are consistently standing up for democratic norms and against fascism.
This flurry of tweets came a week ago, in response to a woman from down south who had come across my article 'Affiliating With Fascists and The Poison of 'Left' Opportunism'. She was understandably alarmed and wanted to spread the information. The MABTF account responded with "Don't be drawn in Michelle, anarchists trying to destroy fed and the enormous amount of work gone on", and "@MABTF is vehemently anti-fascist".
The first part of this is just silly. Anarchists and others are angry about the Knowsley affiliation precisely because they are worried that allowing the allies of fascists into the Federation will destroy it, by effectively excluding those particularly targeted by fascists. The second part is true only to the extent that an anti-oppression motion was originally passed by the Federation, with those labelled as "anarchists" to the fore in promoting it. However, this unanimously approved motion was then dismissed as "something to work towards" by the committee's chair, as she pushed for a vote on affiliating Knowsley. So while "the anarchists" are "vehemently anti-fascist", and the anti-oppression motion they drafted certainly was, the Federation cannot be said to be. For the Federation chair, we work towards abolishing oppression by allowing some of the most oppressive scum to be found anywhere a potential seat at the table.
When the woman who posted my article asked why anyone would try to break the Federation, @MABTF declared that "the anarchists" had "been destructive from the beginning and think screaming in peoples faces is debate".
Anarchists tend not to be backward in coming forward about their beliefs, and frustration at opportunism has created a lot of anger, but no screaming in anyone's face has taken place at Federation meetings. This is more fiction.
But even more ridiculous is the claim that "the anarchists" have been destructive of the bedroom tax movement "from the beginning". The truth is that it was an anarchist who came up with the idea of a mass meeting on the bedroom tax last autumn. Those dismissed as "the anarchists" did much of the work building for, organising, and facilitating that meeting, which took place at the Black-E in January. As many local groups sprang out of that central meeting, it was an anarchist who went to each group's initial meeting, giving a Powerpoint presentation on the bedroom tax and his ideas about how it could be fought.
Since then, "the anarchists" have been extremely active in their respective local groups, helping to arrange meetings, going leafleting, taking part in actions/lobbying of local politicians and housing associations, and assisting those who have been filling in appeal forms. This certainly shouldn't get them any special treatment, but it should entitle them to some basic respect.
Though many of "the anarchists" do indeed describe themselves as anarchists, by no means all of them do. Some prefer to call themselves communists, others socialists, and others are quite new to political activism, and do not want to label themselves at the moment, as is their absolute right. But to the committee of Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, anyone who opposes their Machiavellian maneuverings is one of "the anarchists". Anyone who wants open democracy within the Federation is apparently an anarchist. Anyone who consistently opposes fascism is supposedly an anarchist.
The reasons for this are not clear, but there are two main possibilities. For those on the committee who identify as Trotskyists, it is a convenient catch-all political label which they will have used for many years. But perhaps more importantly, in the public consciousness it is normally associated with 'chaos', 'trouble-makers' and even 'bomb-throwers'. This is an idea popularised by the rich and their servants down the years, precisely with the intention of scaring the working class away from militant action in their own interests.
It is a shameful state of affairs for the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation committee to stoop so low.